Beauty brand incubator FounderSix announced on Wednesday it raised $12 million in venture capital funding from KD Capital.
FounderSix focuses on developing influencer-led brands. It was founded in 2020 by Oli Goulden, who has a marketing and startup investment background, and his co-founder Pieter Wittgen, who has an investment banking background. The funding will be directed toward building more brands and product development.
“What we’ve seen in the market is that there a lot of passionate people in their [influencer] category who want to start their own businesses, but there wasn’t a great support system behind the scenes,” said Oli Goulden, co-founder of FounderSix.
Goulden said that FounderSix operates like a platform for incubating brands, as the team has a “decentralized” approach. Rather than owning the teams behind product development, marketing and legal services, FounderSix outsources those to partners like Crown Abbey, an R&D manufacturer and consultancy.
FounderSix has three brands in its portfolio, all of which recently launched. The first is the gender-fluid makeup brand Ary World, launched in May with TikToker Alex Renee as founder. Renee has 7.5 million TikTok followers and 240,000 Instagram followers. The second brand launched in early October — the Moroccan-inspired hair-care brand Anablue with influencer Lauren Perez, who also serves as designer and creative director for Alo Yoga and Good American. The third, launched just after Anablue, is the makeup brand Ravie Beauty, with YouTuber Allie Glines as founder. Glines has 826,000 YouTube subscribers. Goulden said that Ravie Beauty surpassed its six-figure 12-month sales projection in 30 minutes. FounderSix plans to launch 2-3 more brands in the next 18 months. Goulden said that launching the first three brands required meeting at least 50 potential founders.
“Our investment in FounderSix is a testament to our trust in Oli and Pieter’s leadership,” said Lewis Cheng, managing partner of KD Capital in a press release. “Their guiding principle of investing in people, not just ideas, resonates deeply with us. Both have a fantastic talent for creating exciting new brands from scratch, and their proven track record excites us to support their vision into the future.” KD Capital has previously invested in companies including the dating website OKCupid and the e-commerce membership service Shoprunner.
FounderSix’s focus on influencers comes at a time when the influencer-founded brand hype has come and gone. Brands like Selfless by Hyram and Addison Rae’s Item Beauty launched to great fanfare in 2021 in retailers like Sephora. Selfless relaunched shortly after in Target in Jan. 2023, while Item Beauty is no longer available. Goulden agreed there has been influencer brand fatigue. He said that establishing a viable brand in the category requires emphasizing the influencer founder’s story, and that marketing strategy and products are equally important.
“Influencer brands can’t just go out there with any old product,” said Goulden. “They need to be better than the competition. Because there have been so many, there’s an instant suspicion among consumers that it’s just a cash cow and the products are not that good.”